Watch: The Good Nurse's Jessica Chastain on the true crime craze
The dramatised story of one of America’s most prolific serial killers, The Good Nurse is released at a time when true crime seems to be at the top of everybody’s watchlist. And the film’s star, Jessica Chastain, has been sharing her thoughts on why our appetite for it shows no signs of stopping.
In The Good Nurse, Chastain plays real life nurse, Amy Loughren, who is stretched to her limits by the night shifts at the ICU. Help arrives when thoughtful new colleague, Charlie Cullen (Eddie Redmayne), starts work at the hospital and the two develop a strong friendship. But when a number of patients die under mysterious circumstances, an investigation points to Cullen as the prime suspect and Amy is forced to risk her life to uncover the truth.
Read more: Everything new on Netflix in October
Talking exclusively to Yahoo Movies, the Oscar winning actor reflected on why true crime stories, such as the one in her film, have captured our imagination. “It makes us feel part of something bigger than we are,” she said. “Many times, when you hear about something happening, there’s often a neighbour who says ‘I can’t believe it. They were the nicest person in the world, such a good father’ etc. ‘They were the last person you would expect.’ And, when you hear that phrase, you ask yourself if this is something I’m capable of, and I find that really interesting.
“I think we’re all capable of anything if we’re put in complicated situations and it’s our responsibility to take care of each other and to see everybody as human. It’s easy to say ‘that person is a monster, that’s why it happened.’”
In the film, as in real life, Chastain’s character becomes close friends with Cullen, only to discover the horrific reality of his actions in the hospital. Eddie Redmayne, who plays the serial killer, thinks that the balance of good and evil in the story is a vital part of its appeal. “What was extraordinary for me was that, on the one hand, the story was based on a man who did horrific things. But it was also actually the story of a hero’s journey, the woman who was able to stop him doing these things by approaching violence with compassion and empathy rather than violence.”
The film’s director, Tobias Lindholm, previously directed episodes of the hugely successful Mindhunter, but has a different view on true crime, believing it’s always been a source of fascination. “In my mind, human life is divided into two parts – what we hope for and what we fear and they only exist because of each other. The darkness is clearly what we fear, but it keeps us going every day. We fear that our children won’t eat. We hope we’ll be able to provide them with the life that they dream of. And so we live. We need to tell stories from the darkness as well.”
When Charles Cullen was arrested, he told police he’d killed at least 40 patients in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. He was eventually convicted for the murder of 29, although it’s believed the number of victims ran in to hundreds. He is currently serving multiple life sentences and will never be released.
The Good Nurse is based on the book of the same name by Charles Graeber and the cast also includes Noah Emmerich, Nnamdi Asomugha and Kim Dickens.
The Good Nurse is released on Netflix on Wednesday, 26 October. Watch a trailer below.